Business Community Support Is Essential for Center City’s Neighborhood Schools

On April 16, Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, addressed the membership of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC). In attendance were business leaders and young professionals, principals and parents. Dr. Hite, Paul R. Levy, Executive Director of CPDC, and Christine Carlson, a Greenfield Elementary School parent and founder of the Greater Center City Neighborhood Schools Coalition, discussed the topic, “How the School District of Philadelphia Can Help Retain Families with Children in Center City.”

Paul Levy addressed the issues of the growing number of school-age children in Center City and adjacent neighborhoods and the importance of quality of neighborhood schools in keeping professionals living and working downtown. From 2000-2010, the number of school-aged children in Center City grew by 16% and the number of children under the age of five increased by 32% in the same period. Levy also spoke of how businesses can support local schools through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program.

Dr. Hite addressed the School District’s citywide situation, its dire financial state, the recent school closures and the need to make the School District bureaucracy more responsive. This includes not only communities and parents, but also conversations with the business community so that the School District can open its doors to partners and funders. Recently, the district established a new Office of Strategic Partnerships which is currently working on streamlining the process for funders and partners who are interested in directing resources to specific neighborhood schools.  

Ms. Carlson followed Dr. Hite with the parents’ perspective. She stressed the importance of schools serving as community anchors and emphasized that neighborhood public schools should always be a viable option for parents. She spoke of how the business community can play a vital role in supporting these schools. “We are at a tipping point,” said Carlson. “We have the children in the pipeline, we have families who want to stay in the city and we have leadership that understands the importance of neighborhood schools as community anchors.”

To read Ms. Carlson’s remarks, click here [PDF 89KB].

To learn more about the Center City District and CPDC’s schools’ initiatives,
click here.

Tags: Parents' Perspective, Schools

Posted: May 2, 2013

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